Student surveying a field

Creating a healthier, more productive, more resilient agriculture for Wisconsin and the world.

That is the challenge taken up by the faculty, staff, and students of the agronomy program in the Department of Plant and Agroecosystem Sciences. 

We generate and apply knowledge about the plants that feed and benefit humankind. Agronomic crops are typically grown for grain to feed people and livestock, or are processed into products. Feed crops are grown specifically to meet the nutritional needs of livestock. Forage crops are grown for their stems, leaves, and other edible plant parts.

We find and implement solutions to problems and opportunities concerning efficiency and sustainability of crop production and in safe and environmentally sound ways.

We generate knowledge on the genetics, genomics, biochemistry, and physiology of plants.

We study the interactions among cropping systems, climate, and the environment. We emphasize sustainable agriculture, whether precision, traditional or organic, in order to reduce the impact on the environment and the inhabitants of our planet.

We work to ensure that agricultural systems and products in Wisconsin and the world are able to meet rapidly-changing needs and those of future generations.

Undergraduates in the agronomy program earn a bachelor of science degree to prepare them for everything from pursuit of a graduate degree to careers in science, education, agriculture, agribusiness, and environment and conservation. 

How to Get in

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed in the Contact Box for the major.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS BS Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First year seminar1
International studies3
Physical science fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological science5
Additional science (biological, physical, or natural)3
Science breadth (biological, physical, natural, or social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "major requirements")

Major Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics
Complete one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):5-6
and Trigonometry
Algebra and Trigonometry
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
Survey of Calculus
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Complete one of the following:3
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Introduction to Biostatistics
Statistical Methods for Bioscience I
Complete one of the following:5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Complete one of the following options:10
Option 1:
General Botany
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
Option 2:
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology
Option 3:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Complete one of the following:3-4
Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics
Principles of Microeconomics
Principles of Economics-Accelerated Treatment
Complete 8 credits from any Foundation category (see list below)8
Complete all of the following:12
Principles and Practices in Crop Production
General Soil Science
and Meet Your Soil: Soil Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory
Introduction to Plant Pathology
Complete one of the following:3
Principles of Genetics
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
Complete one of the following: 3-4
Introduction to Entomology
Principles of Economic Entomology
Complete one of the following:3-4
Grassland Ecology
The Vegetation of Wisconsin
General Ecology
Wetlands Ecology
Electives within the Major
Complete 14 additional credits of Agronomy courses 114
AGRONOMY 500 Senior Capstone Experience2
Total Credits71-79

No more than 3 credits total in AGRONOMY 299 Independent Study, AGRONOMY 399 Coordinative Internship/Cooperative Education, AGRONOMY 699 Special Problems. Credits used to satisfy the capstone experience may not count here.

Foundation Courses

Ag Social Science

A A E 319 The International Agricultural Economy3
A A E 320 Agricultural Systems Management3
A A E 322 Commodity Markets4
A A E 323 Cooperatives and Alternative Forms of Enterprise Ownership3
A A E/​ECON  421 Economic Decision Analysis4
A A E/​ECON  474 Economic Problems of Developing Areas3
C&E SOC/​SOC  140 Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology4
C&E SOC/​SOC  222 Food, Culture, and Society3
C&E SOC/​AMER IND/​SOC  578 Poverty and Place3
C&E SOC/​SOC  650 Sociology of Agriculture3

Animal Science

AN SCI/​DY SCI  101 Introduction to Animal Sciences3
AN SCI 200 The Biology and Appreciation of Companion Animals3
AN SCI/​DY SCI/​NUTR SCI  311 Comparative Animal Nutrition3
AN SCI 431 Beef Cattle Production3
AN SCI 432 Swine Production3
DY SCI 205 Dairy Cattle Improvement Programs2
DY SCI/​AN SCI  361 Introduction to Animal and Veterinary Genetics2
DY SCI/​AN SCI  363 Principles of Animal Breeding2
DY SCI/​AN SCI  370 Livestock Production and Health in Agricultural Development3
DY SCI 378 Lactation Physiology3
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  302 Introduction to Entomology4
ENTOM 351 Principles of Economic Entomology3

Atmospheric Science

ATM OCN 100 Weather and Climate3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  171 Global Change: Atmospheric Issues and Problems2-3

Biological Systems Engineering

BSE 301 Land Information Management3

Food Science

FOOD SCI 120 Science of Food3
FOOD SCI 440 Principles of Food Engineering3
A A E/​C&E SOC/​SOC  340 Issues in Food Systems3-4
NUTR SCI/​BIOCHEM  510 Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism3


ACCT I S 211 Introductory Managerial Accounting3
ACCT I S 301 Financial Reporting I3
ACCT I S 302 Financial Reporting II3
ACCT I S 401 Business Organizations and Negotiable Instruments3
A A E 320 Agricultural Systems Management3
A A E 322 Commodity Markets4
A A E 323 Cooperatives and Alternative Forms of Enterprise Ownership3
A A E 419 Agricultural Finance3
A A E/​ECON  421 Economic Decision Analysis4
A A E/​ECON  474 Economic Problems of Developing Areas3
GEN BUS 301 Business Law3
FINANCE/​ECON  300 Introduction to Finance3
INTL BUS 200 International Business3
MARKETNG 305 Consumer Behavior3
MARKETNG 310 Marketing Research3
MARKETNG/​INTL BUS  420 Global Marketing Strategy3
MARKETNG 424 Sales Strategy and Management3
MARKETNG 426 Strategic Retailing3
MARKETNG 460 Marketing Strategy3
M H R 322 Introduction to Entrepreneurship3
M H R 420 Leading Change in Organizations3
M H R 612 Labor-Management Relations3
R M I 300 Principles of Risk Management3

Nutritional Science

NUTR SCI 132 Nutrition Today3
NUTR SCI/​AN SCI/​DY SCI  311 Comparative Animal Nutrition3
NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs3
NUTR SCI/​A A E/​AGRONOMY  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition3

Soil Science

SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  324 Soils and Environmental Quality3

Bacteriology, Biochemistry, Genetics

MICROBIO 101 General Microbiology3
MICROBIO 102 General Microbiology Laboratory2
MICROBIO 303 Biology of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 304 Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory2
MICROBIO/​FOOD SCI  324 Food Microbiology Laboratory2
MICROBIO/​FOOD SCI  325 Food Microbiology3
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3

Ecological Sciences

F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST  100 Forests of the World3
F&W ECOL 318 Principles of Wildlife Ecology3
F&W ECOL/​BOTANY  455 The Vegetation of Wisconsin4
F&W ECOL/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology4
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Articulate the role of biological processes, management systems, environmental influences, and economic and social factors on world food, feed, and fiber production. Specific topics that all students should have knowledge of include: photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, genetic inheritance, and management and uses of primary U.S. crop species.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to critically and creatively analyze problems and evaluate systems.
  3. Communicate effectively through writing and speaking and will be able to identify and critically evaluate available sources of information
  4. Develop a global perspective and appreciate the interdependencies among individuals and their workplaces, communities, environments, and the planet; and an understanding of the role of science in society

Four-Year Plan

Sample Agronomy Four-Year Plan

First Year
CHEM 103 or 1094-5CHEM 104 (or Elective)5 
MATH 112, 114, or 17113-5Elective3 
COMM A3ECON 101, 111, or A A E 1014 
First Year Seminar1  
 15-18 17 
Second Year
Foundation Course23Foundation Courses5 
5Social Science Course3 
Statistics Course3Agronomy Course33 
Ethnic Studies Course3COMM B3 
 14 14 
Third Year
Agronomy Courses6Agronomy Course3Internship or Agronomy Independent Study1-3
ENTOM 351 or 3023International Studies Course3 
Elective3Humanities Elective Course3 
 16 15 1-3
Fourth Year
Agronomy Course3-4Agronomy Course6-7 
PL PATH 3004Electives6-9 
Humanities Course3  
 17-18 14-18 
Total Credits 123-133

Determined by placement exam. Consult SOAR advisor.


Eight (8) credits of foundation courses required. See requirements tab for details.


Fourteen (14) credits of agronomy electives required. See requirements tab for details.

Advising and Careers


The Department of Plant and Agroecosystem Sciences is faculty-advised, meaning that faculty members take on the responsibility of guiding and advising undergraduates through graduation. Students and faculty are matched as closely as possible by interest. All new first-year and transfer students are temporarily advised by the student services coordinator until the advising relationship between professor and student is established. If you would like to have a conversation about joining the Department of Plant and Agroecosystem Sciences, please contact or the advisor, Bill Tracy


An Agronomy degree is an open door to careers in many related fields such as biotechnology, plant genetics, crop management, agricultural financial management, farming, seed sales, crop consulting, Certified Crop Advising, Certified Professional Agronomy, agribusiness, extension agronomy, agricultural education, government work, and international agronomy.


The fastest growing sector of agriculture is plant breeding, genetics, and genomics. Plant scientists are working at the field, plant, cellular, and molecular level to create cultivars that are hardier, disease resistant, nutritious, and affordable. The industry's growth is currently outstripping the rate of graduation; graduates can take their pick of interesting, fulfilling careers in the public and private sectors.


The biofuel industry is also experiencing rapid growth, with research and development being focused on sugar-based biofuels, cellulosic biofuels, and biodiesels, made from plants as varied as switchgrass, sugar cane, corn, and wood pulp. These energy crops are harvested and processed into alternatives to fossil fuels.


In agribusiness, agronomists take data and translate it into real-world applications. They sell tools for crop production, provide agricultural loans, consult on crops, manage businesses, and much more. They are often responsible for translating technical research data into applications. Numerous agronomy graduates are also involved in the sale of agricultural products, which are vital to today’s economy. Other successful agronomists serve as crop advisers, farm managers, consultants, bank loan specialists, managers, and much more.

Research/Education and Extension

Agronomic educators specialize in teaching and working with high school and college students. They also teach and advise students who chose advanced studies for a master’s degree and/or PhD They are extensively involved in research, publishing findings on a regular basis and making scientific advances.

Extension agronomists usually work for a state, local, or national government; they consult with farmers and others to help find answers to their specific problems and help farmers translate research results into usable management practices. Government-employed agronomists also work with farmers and ranchers to plan for soil and water conservation so crops and land can be managed efficiently and with minimal impact to the environment.


A full list of faculty can be found on our department website.

Wisconsin Experience

The following opportunities can help students connect with other students interested in agronomy, build relationships with faculty and staff, and contribute to out-of-classroom learning:

  • Badger Crops Club, a professional, social, and educational group for agronomy students and students in related fields interested in any aspect of crop production.
  • Collegiate FFA, an official collegiate chapter of the National FFA organization.
  • AWA—the Association of Women in Agriculture, a professional student organization for young women with a passion for agriculture.
  • WISELI—Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute, a research center aiming to increase the representation, advancement, and satisfaction of women faculty and members of groups currently underrepresented on the faculty and in leadership at UW–Madison. 
  • Study Abroad: Agronomy majors have the opportunity to go on experiential study abroad programs, where students can immerse themselves in research or global agronomy field experiences. Students can review the International Academic Programs website and the CALS study abroad advising page for information on these and other programs, as well as requirements that can typically be fulfilled abroad and things to consider when fitting study abroad into an academic plan.
  • Research/Lab experience: Students are encouraged to get involved in research, whether in the agronomy department or through other plant-, soil-, or ecology-related departments. Research can be performed for either course credit or pay, depending on the opportunity. Research opportunities can primarily be found by inquiring with faculty members.

Resources and Scholarships

The Agronomy program is proud to participate in the CALS Scholarship Program, which awards thousands of dollars to undergraduate scholars every year. The majority of our students have some form of financial aid through CALS, the university, or work-study or laboratory jobs.